Mcgarrity ready for title defence
New championships should help refresh BTRDA series structure
Six-time champion Derek Mcgarrity will begin the defence of his Mcgrady Insurance Northern Ireland Rally Championship title at Kirkistown Circuit in County Down this weekend.
Mcgarrity will drive the same DMACKliveried Ford Fiesta RS World Rally Car that he took to victory at the same venue almost a month ago when he won the New Year Stages by 13 seconds.
“The plan is to do the whole championship,” the competition’s most successful driver said. “The rallies suit my budget and they don’t require me to take too much time off work.”
His Fiesta has only just returned from M-sport in Cumbria where engineers made a series of tweaks to the car’s set-up, including to its ECU after Mcgarrity noticed it was misfiring when in fourth gear.
“It feels a lot better now, I’m happy with it,” he said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do last weekend’s Galway International Rally.
“I was hoping to close a sponsorship deal for the rally but it didn’t work out in time sadly.”
The organising North Armagh Motor Club will run six stages from 0930hrs on Saturday, with a series of small changes from previous years helping to increase the total competitive distance to almost 30 miles.
Two new championships join the BTRDA in 2016, with two-wheel-drive hatchbacks coming to the fore.
First off, the DMACK Fiesta ST Trophy – for the M-sport-built Group N-spec cars – has been spawned from the Copart Trophy which ran for Rally GB last year. With the car reaching the end of its 10-year homologation period it’s no longer eligible for international events. The Copart Trophy offered a test in a modern R2T Fiesta for the winner.
Now the man behind the Gb-based trophy – John Pritchard – has started the ST Trophy for the cars to run in, with prizes by DMACK. The winner of the series will get the chance to compete for a drive in the DMACK Trophy in 2017, which supports the WRC on five rounds and is generally accepted as the best form of Junior rallying in the world championship. Junior 1000 champion George Lepley and Next Big Step winner Sam Bilham are among the entries to the trophy, with a competitive year ahead.
The second FWD series to join the BTRDA is the 205 Cup, for the Peugeot cars which have launched the careers of many drivers in the past. The cup is for historic-spec 205s, but hasn’t obtained the uptake bosses would have liked, with only three 205s appearing.